Sunday, October 01, 2023 – The parents of a young black gymnast who was skipped over during a medal ceremony have blasted Gymnastics Ireland for its ‘useless’ apology.
The sports body sparked a racism row when footage showed the young black girl being skipped during a medal ceremony while her white friends were all given an award at an event in Dublin in March 2022.
Her furious parents said they felt like their daughter was ‘blamed for being black’.
18 months on from the incident, Gymnastics Ireland said it was ‘deeply sorry’ for the medal snub.
Now, the girl’s parents have claimed they only apologised ‘because we cried for so long’.
The girl’s mother told the BBC: ‘It is painful to actually state the obvious – my daughter was the only black child in that competition, she stood out well. There was no excuse for what happened. She felt very upset about what happened.
‘It was almost as though they blamed her for being black. It’s something very uncomfortable for a ten-year-old to go through.’
Her father added: ‘They tried to cover up like it didn’t happen. They probably thought that with time [we’d] forget about it. It was painful. You have to beg for an apology.’
The incident took place at the GymStart event in Dublin last March when all the children, except the young black girl, were given participation medals on the podium.
Gymnastics Ireland apologised on Monday ‘for the upset that has been caused’ and said it would ensure ‘nothing like this will happen again’ as it condemned ‘any form of racism’.
But the mother of the girl described the apology as ‘so useless’ and said she hasn’t even shown it to her daughter ‘because it’s been well over a year’.
She added: ‘They only sent us an apology because the world wanted them to, because we cried for so long.
‘We kind of told her, regardless of your skin colour, people shouldn’t treat you differently.’
The mother said that she had emailed Gymnastics Ireland the day after the incident in the hopes of getting an apology for her daughter. But only after 12 months did the family receive a short apology letter from the judge at the event.
The BBC found that she had written a different apology shortly after the event which she had sent to Gymnastics Ireland to give to the family. The family say they never received that email and only saw it last month.